Biddeford, ME --- Junior Kelley Paradis (Newport, ME) tallied a game-high 20 points to help lead the Univeristy of New England to a 64-58 victory over WPI in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Women's Basketball Championship semifinals played Saturday evening at the Campus Center.
The top-seeded Nor'easters (23-7) advance to Sunday's championship game and will face the winner of tonight's second contest between No. 2 University of Southern Maine and No. 3 Endicott College.
Trailing 32-24 just over two minutes into the second half, UNE went off on an 18-3 run over the next 7:22 to assume a 47-35 advantage. Big Blue would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
The Engineers countered with a 17-6 stretch of their own -- including four baskets from downtown -- to close the margin to just one (53-52) with 5:44 to play.
A pair of free throws and a three-point play by Paradis pushed the cushion back up to six (58-52), only to see the next five points go for WPI, leaving the UNE lead at one (58-57) with 53 seconds left on the clock. Senior Melissa Kuhn (Stoughton, MA) accounted for all five points to get the Engineers back in it.
Paradis sank a jumper from the top of the key with 29 seconds remaining to increase the difference to three (60-57), and following one free throw from WPI, the Nor'easter canned all four of theirs from the charity stripe in the last 16 seconds to seal the win.
For UNE, senior Carrie Bunnell (Barnet, VT) chipped in with 15 points to go with a game-best five assists. Junior Margo Russell (Madison, ME) added 14 points, including the 1,000th of her career coming on a free throw with 6:29 left in the match. Russell becomes the 20th player in program history to surpass the milestone.
Sophomore Beth Suggs (Bath, ME) recorded seven points and nine boards off the bench for Big Blue, and registered five of UNE's 15 offensive rebounds in the game.
WPI (19-8), the tournament's fourth seed, jumped out in the early-going to an 11-2 lead after 3:49 of action. It's cushion peaked at 11 on three different occasions -- the last with 53 seconds to go in the opening frame -- before treys from Russell and Bunnell trimmed the UNE halftime deficit to five (27-22).
Seniors Elle Fontaine (Franklin, MA), Charlotte McDonnell (Swansea, MA) and Kuhn complete their career in an Engineer uniform. Fontaine finishes ninth on the WPI scoring list with 1,195 points.
Release Courtesy University of New England Sports Information